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Tension Rises AS Machar’s Security forces Clash with Kiir’s Generals at Church

There was pandemonium at Presbyterian Church in South Sudan capital Juba after a fierce fight erupted between the body guards of South Sudan’s first vice president Dr Riek Machar on one side and those of the bodyguards of General Gathoth Gatkuoth and former chief of general staff, General James Hoth Mai, on the other.

Congregation during the church service where the forces from two sides clashed.

Dr. Machar and his wife Angelina Teny, Gen Gatkuoth and Gen James Hoth Mai were attending a Sunday service at Nuer Presbyterian Church in Juba yesterday.

According to a South Sudanese envoy Gordon Buay, the incident occurred when bodyguards of the first vice-president allegedly did not want cars belonging to Gatkuoth and Gathoth in the church compound.

“The untrained and unprofessional Riek Machar’s bodyguards nearly caused fighting in Nuer Presbyterian Church at Jebel today. When the 1st VP arrived at the Church in the morning, his bodyguards demanded that the cars of Gen. James Hoth and Gen. Gathoth Gatkuoth be removed from the church’s compound. Riek’s bodyguards said only the cars of 1st VP must be parked on the church’s parking lot” He said.

“The bodyguards of Gen. James Hoth and Gen. Gathoth refused to remove their cars arguing that the church is not the office of Riek Machar. President Kiir’s bodyguards never removed cars from Kator Catholic Church on Sunday. There has never been a single day that President Kiir’s security personnel removed cars from the Church’s compound on Sunday” Ambassador added.

Buay added that the security guards of Gen. James Hoth and Gen. Gathoth Gatkuoth warned the bodyguards of Riek Machar to either stop their attempts to remove cars forcefully or risk fighting adding that the disaster was averted when the Nuer pastor intervened and told Riek Machar’s bodyguards that what they were doing was illegal and immoral.

The controversial South Sudanese envoy also a former rebel spokesperson in the SPLA-1O claimed that the wife of Dr Riek Machar Angelina Teny also during the church service called on the ethnic Nuer community not to forget their massacre of December 2013 in Juba.

“The church service resumed without any incident: however, Angelina Teny wept in front of the people and said the Nuer were massacred by the Dinka in 2013. She told the Nuer congregation not to forget what the Dinka did to them in 2013. The 1st VP told the Nuer congregation that the Nuer in UNMISS camps should not come out until he advises them to do so” The envoy claimed.

However Riek Machar’s press secretary, James Gatdet Dak, although he acknowledged that the first vice-president attended the church and Angelina Teny also was in the church while speaking with Sudan Tribune, he however dismissed the allegation of near fighting as false, adding that the comments of Teny have been twisted.

“First, there was no quarrel or threats of violence between bodyguards. Second, not only the cars of the first vice president were in the church compound. There were about 50 other cars in the compound, parked by different members of the congregation. The allegation that his bodyguards only wanted his cars in the compound is false,” said Dak.

He also said Angelina Teny did not tell the congregation not to forget the massacre of December 2013 as an incitement.

“Her comments have been twisted in the allegation. What she was saying was that although it was always natural for somebody to remember anything good or bad that had happened, there was still need to forgive one another as the people of South Sudan,” he said.

By Robert Muriisa, Sudan Tribune.

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